To mark Action Mesothelioma Day 2021, the Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) is releasing a report focusing on data obtained and analysed by Dr Gill Reed, JUAC Technical Adviser, which shows how failures by successive governments mean that some of our school buildings with the most dangerous asbestos may still be exposing staff and students for decades to come.
The introduction to the report makes for stark reading:
The United Kingdom has the highest mesothelioma rate in the world because of the extensive use of asbestos during the1950s-1980s. Most of the victims were thought to be people who worked with these asbestos materials. This report estimates that 5-10,000 former pupils and staff have already died from mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure in their former schoolsin1960-1980s.It aims to find out if they are safer today.
The outlined investigation of asbestos management in 60 CLASP schools together with the available published school airborne asbestos levels, suggest that staff and pupils are likely to be exposed to higher asbestos levels, on average, than the former teacher mesothelioma victims that were exposed in their schoolsbetween1960-1980.
Crucially, the available evidence suggested that successive governments have ignored on cost and disruption grounds the significant risk from cumulative long-term exposure of occupants to low levels of asbestos in buildings. Consequently, since 1980 tens of thousands of pupils and staff, attending and working in schools which contain substantial amounts of asbestos (e.g., CLASP type schools), may have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma from school-based exposure.
Shockingly, pupils are particularly at risk.
JUAC calls for urgent Government action to improve the asbestos regulations, identify all CLASP-type schools with unsafe asbestos and fund asbestos removal and replacement of buildings that cannot be made safe.
The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) was formed in 2010 and is a trade union campaigning committee comprising of eight unions: Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL); National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT); National Education Union (NEU); NASUWT; UCU, Voice Community; plus the education sections of UNISON, Unite, and the GMB. The Group’s objective is to make all UK schools and colleges safe from the dangers of asbestos. All the unions in JUAC are also members of the Asbestos in Schools (AIS) campaign.
Source: Hazards / JUAC